When first responders get to a scene, they never quite know what they’re going to encounter, which is why they train for all kinds of scenarios.
When emergency response showed up to the scene of an accident in Billings, Montana, at around 8:00 p.m. on Sept. 29, it soon became clear that while there were no catastrophic injuries (thankfully), a different sort of assistance was needed.
The two vehicles involved in the accident were severely damaged, but while everything was being sorted out, 26-year-old firefighter Ryan Benton saw an opportunity to help out one of the littlest people present and plopped down on the curb with a book, reading to a girl who’d been involved in the wreck.
Bystander Allie Marie Schmalz spotted the firefighter quietly doing this important work and had to capture it.
“Sweetest thing ever!” she posted on Facebook along with the photo on Sept. 29. “This fireman is reading books to a little girl after being in an accident. First responders are amazing.”
The picture soon went viral, as it highlighted some of the work first responders do that often goes unnoticed.
While Benton himself declined to comment, his friends and family have been more than happy to talk about his kind heart.
“Benton took it upon himself to read a story to the girl while her parents dealt with the accident,” media coordinator for the Billings Fire Department, Cameron Abell, told Fox News.
“This allowed her to calm down and allowed the parents the ability to focus on getting some sense of normalcy back after a traumatic event like an accident.
“As this photo shows, our people are the light on a cold scary night. They will be there for you when your darkest moment happens.”
Thanks to donations from Rimrock Credit Union and Usborne Books, the fire department has been supplied with book and gift bags designed for situations just like this, where kids could use a diversion and a sense of normalcy once the most pressing needs have been addressed.
“We’re going to take care of the job we’re doing there first,” Abell told KTVQ. “That’s our first priority. But there’s a lot of times after like the story you saw in the social media post. That firefighter, Ryan, he was there, they were cleaning up the car accident, and so he took it upon himself to, to take the time to make those kids feel safe.
“Ryan’s a really humble guy, and he’s probably going to kill me for kind of putting him on the spotlight. But he, he did great work that day and he said he didn’t want to be on the interview because that’s his job and he’s just doing his job. And that’s kind of how we all feel. But we all know when somebody does something like that and gets spotlighted for it, it’s good to recognize their good work.”
Benton’s wife Katy also commented on Schmalz’s post.
“[W]ill u show him and tell him that was the sweetest thing ever to see???” Schmalz wrote. “He was so kind to her and gave her a little bag with goodies in it. He sat there for awhile reading to her and it was so awesome and precious.”
“[H]e has seen it!” Katy replied. “I’m his wife. Thank you for this post! Makes me so proud when I get to see pictures like this!!”
It may have just been “part of the job” for Ryan, but he clearly excels at his work and has brightened many people’s day — especially one little girl’s — thanks to his readiness to tackle any situation.
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